If you’re staring at a shopping list, wondering how you’ll pay for everything up-front, may we introduce you to layaway?
So, what is layaway?
It’s basically an agreement between customers and stores that allows customers to reserve an item before they’ve fully paid for it.
Customers pay a deposit and stores hold the merchandise until the balance is paid. There’s no interest and no credit check, but sometimes there are service fees and cancellation fees.
Why would I want to try layaway?
Layaway is a great option for shoppers who don’t want to spend a big chunk of their budget in one trip, or who can’t pay for an item outright. It’s also perfect for shoppers who want to avoid using (or overusing) credit cards.
You’ll also want to check out the various Buy Now, Pay Later options online.
Will layaway affect my credit?
No credit or income checks are needed to start a layaway account in a physical store, and no interest is charged on the items you’re making payments on.
The Top In-store Layaway Programs
1. Walmart Holiday Layaway lets you use coupons for your item!
Offer dates: Begins Aug. 28 and final payment and pickup must be done by Dec. 14.
Down Payment: $10 or 10% (whichever is greater).
Cancellation Fee: $10 or 10% of the original down payment (whichever is greater).
Online Layaway available: Walmart partners with the high-interest Buy Now, Pay Later solution Affirm for online purchases.
- Individual items must be $10 or greater, and your total purchase must be at least $50.
- Excludes all wireless phones.
- Layaway not available Thanksgiving Day.
- Layaway only available for Electronics, Auto Electronics, Large Furniture, Toys, Infant Toys/Furniture, Select Sporting Goods, Small Appliances and Jewelry.
Easiest way to save: You can use coupons on layaway items!
TIP: Depending on your total purchase, paying a $10 fee to start a layaway plan on a $50 item ends up costing you an extra 20%! But paying $10 to start layaway on a $400 game system is only 2.5%. Unless you’re worried about a popular item selling out, wait until you have the cash to buy smaller items outright.
2. Sears & Kmart Layaway works only for certain items.
Offer dates: All year.
Down Payment: $10 (or in some cases 10%) for an 8- or 12-week plan (each includes a non-refundable service fee of $5-$10). The longer 12-week plan is for purchases of $300 or more at Kmart and $400 or more at Sears.
Cancellation Fee: $15 for the 8-week plan and $25 for the 12-week plan. Layaways may be cancelled 7 days after payments are due.
Available online? Yes. (Select “Pay with Layaway” at checkout.)
Restrictions: You can only use layaway on items that say “Layaway Eligible” on the tag, or if you’re shopping online, look on the product page just above delivery and pickup options.
Easiest way to save: Use store coupons on layaway items!
TIP: Some stores will allow the use of coupons when you’re putting something on layaway. Be sure to give your coupons to the store associate when you activate your layaway plan so that they will be reflected in the amount due.
3. Marshalls Layaway & T.J.Maxx Layaway have strict due dates!
Offer dates: All year.
Down Payment: 10% or a minimum of $15, plus $5 non-refundable service fee (balance must be paid within 30 days).
Cancellation Fee: $5.
Available online? No.
Restrictions: Layaway not available for jewelry, furniture or clearance.
Easiest way to save: Shop on Wednesday morning for first dibs on the newest inventory.
TIP: You’re required to make your final payment by a certain due date. If you miss that date, you risk losing your layaway items and having to pay a cancellation fee!
4. Burlington Coat Factory Layaway gives you bonus cash for signing up!
Offer dates: All year — and they’ve been doing it for more than 45 years. Burlington will often offer $5 bonus cash for signing up!
Down Payment: 20% on the first day and an additional 20% 14 days after purchase. (The balance must be paid within 60 days, and there’s a $5 service fee.)
Cancellation Fee: $10. Any refunds of layaway deposits will be given in the form of a gift card.
Online Layaway Available: No.
Restrictions: No food products.
5. Big Lots Layaway is called “price hold.”
Big Lots doesn’t have traditional layaway, but what they do have is “Price Hold,” which has similarities and is worth mentioning.
Price Hold is only available for furniture at Big Lots. In order for an item to be eligible for Price Hold, the item must be out of stock in your local store. If your store manager chooses, they can place a Price Hold on the item while you wait for the item to come in (this can sometimes take weeks). You may keep making payments until the item arrives, but you must pay the balance in full and pick up your item.
Big Lots also has a lease-to-own program.
Offer Dates: All Year
Down Payment: 10% (and some locations may charge a $5 fee)
Cancellation Fee: $5
Online Layaway Available: No
Restrictions: Price Hold is only done in Big Lots stores with Furniture and Home departments.
6. Look out for GameStop Layaway this fall.
Offer dates: Unannounced for 2020, but GameStop tells us it’s likely coming sometime in September. (Last year it ran Sept. 9-Dec. 4, 2019).
Down Payment: $25.
Cancellation Fee: $0
Available online? No.
Easiest way to save: Trade-in some video games and have the proceeds go toward your down payment!
There are also a growing number of online “Buy Now, Pay Later” options.
There are a TON of “Buy Now, Pay Later” options out there — we dedicated an entire article to this — that allow you to get your item immediately and then make four payments every two weeks.
That really helps for big-ticket purchases, unexpected expenses, and yes — the holidays.
Like layaway, you can still do returns, avoid interest payments, and not totally tank your bank account.